Nearly three weeks after the social outburst, President Sebastián Piñera cited the National Security Council (Cosena) and announced a 10-measure “security agenda.” It is a rudder blow that was welcomed on the right – especially from the toughest wing represented by José Antonio Kast – but which in the opposition interpreted as another gross mistake of La Moneda in the search for solutions to the crisis.
The package of administrative and legislative measures with which Piñera seeks to resume control of public order, in the absence of responses by the Executive and the police to normalize the country, insists on the idea of an anti-hooded law (already rejected in its first administration), announces the entry of a bill to toughen penalties for those who commit hesitation, and puts immediate discussion to projects that reform the national intelligence system, and the one that modernizes Carabineros and the IDP, among others. The government’s decision was applauded by Gop-Party leader José Antonio Kast. “Re-establishing public order today is the first and only priority. President Piñera and the Government in announcing the Security Agenda and the subpoena to Cosena. Now we must act and implement it quickly, to end the violence in the streets,” wrote the former UDI, who yesterday released a video in which he directly called on the President to forget about international bodies like the UN and harden the hand on security.
For justice minister Hernán Larraín, the President’s proposal is on the right track, taking into account that this security agenda adds to the social agenda and so-called social dialogues. “There is not a single measure that the Government can take to resolve the whole issue, so the President has followed a rather complex, broad and convening path because together with putting on a social agenda that touches on the most nerve issues that arise in these demonstrations of citizen unrest, adds a public safety agenda that seeks to precautionary and give a sign of rejection of the vandal situations that may be committed.”
Meanwhile, Senator Rodrigo Galilea (RN) also squared with the presidential move, saying that “no one can be indifferent to the level of violence expressed by some protesters throughout Chile. This cannot continue and the President of the Republic is committed to making it stop, for what he needs Carabineros and the IDP, but also legal instruments and advisory bodies such as the Cosena”.
With critical support, also Senator Manuel José Ossandón expressed its emphasis, because the Government must redefine its emphasis. “Who may be against the relevant and necessary public order agenda; but I believe that the social urgency and our poor and timid response to the bottom of the outburst puts us in a worrying place for the outcome. Priorities need to be reviewed,” he said on his Twitter account.
In opposition, Piñera’s slaming to the security agenda was total. DEPUTY RD Giorgio Jackson put it this way: “When we told @sebastianpinera “listen” we were referring to the people, not the ultra of his coalition. With these ads you are “turning off” the fire with benzine. We need to make the way and focus on social demands and the substantive changes Chile claims.”
Meanwhile, Jorge Sharp, one of the mayors of the city hardest hit by riots, Valparaiso, assured that the President still does not understand that “we are not at war.” “More repression will not solve social injustices that for years turned a blind eye. It will only provoke more violence. The call is not for Cosena, but for plebiscite for people to decide the future of Chile,” he said.
For PPD Member Carolina Marzán, Piñera’s announcement is a “lousy and irresponsible signal. There is an undeniable public security issue, but that is a consequence of the President’s misdirection over the last three weeks. It is not conceivable that after the social explosion, an agenda is presented today that criminalizes all action in demonstrations and completely distracts the underlying issue: Social Injustice. We do not yet have government proposals for a social agenda that will bring about substantial changes,” she said.
Communist MEP Karol Cariola argued while with this agenda Piñera “has decided to harden her fist. He cites the National Security Council #Cosena, in which he will be advised by the heads of FFAA and Carabineros, among others. Instead of listening to Chile, he isolates himself and locks himself in his solitary war against his people.”
In the upper house, things look difficult for Piñera given the opposition’s stance. In fact, the head of the opposition senators, Yasna Provoste (DC), Adriana Muñoz (PPD) and Carlos Montes (PS) demanded the President privilege dialogue, end “militarization” and listen to citizens, which goes through a plebiscite.
For Senator DC Ximena Rincón wondered after Piñera’s announcements “Who advises the President of the Republic? The lack of governance we are having is impressive. The President must call a plebiscite now.”
In the same vein, Carlos Montes, commented that “I hope that the Government understands that it has to open a political exit and the exit is nothing more than a plebiscite that summons the citizens, that summons the Chileans to say if they want a new Constitution and how it comes to a new Constitution. We want it to be a constituent assembly through a plebiscite. But this has to be done later. He can’t keep procrastinating, polarizing himself. The truth is that the kind of answers reveal that you don’t understand what’s going on. We want real solutions,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, DC Senator Francisco Huenchumilla said that “the President is wrong, because currently, police have all the powers to restore public order, and there is also extensive criminal legislation regarding crimes that may be commit in manifestations of this nature. We are waiting for a political plan.”
On that level, the head of the dc senators, Yasna Provoste, indicated that “the government of President Piñera still does not understand the nuisance and mobilization of citizens and responds once again with actions that seek to criminalize the peaceful demand.”
“We have no difficulty. And we have seen this in the exercise of our legislative task by supporting citizen security initiatives. But today responding to such a deep, wide-ranging social crisis with an agenda of criminalization of demonstrations, we believe it does not help resolve the conflict,” she said.
In addition, Provoste stated that “the country expects very clear signals in order to unravel a situation of discomfort that has been expressed very strongly, particularly in these three weeks. And these signs do not go down the line of convening the Cosena, but, because they have an open, participatory dialogue, with democratic spaces.”
“Today clearly the country has different paths. And one of them is to convene a plebiscite, to establish what is the model of society we want.”
For her part, PPD senator Adriana Muñoz clarified that “President Piñera insists that there is a war in Chile. With this he is proving that he did not abandon his initial thesis, which were not casual words. Meanwhile, in Chile, thousands and thousands of people are displaced who are demanding political and social solutions, not military, in the face of a system, a model, that all it has generated are inequalities and abuses”
“The President’s response is to militarize when it should be political and social. I think this corroborates an initial attempt that has been made from the very beginning, when the mobilizations began, to confuse legitimate social protest with vandalism and crime. This is crowned today, like the icing on the cake, with this call to COSENA.”
The dissenting voice
In the opposition, the dissenting voice was carried by DC MP Miguel Angel Calisto, who valued the Executive’s measures to combat violence. The PARLIAMENT said: “Now we have to get out of the trenches, especially the politicians. We need to have the capacity and the height to define strategies to maintain peaceful mobilizations to bring about the necessary changes at the national level, but also to stop and disarm the groups that are generating terror for families Chileans.”
The parliamentarian also said to expect the Cosena to define intelligence mechanisms to eradicate acts of violence.
“Today the country lacks elements to identify criminals and violent people who are alarming the population, and who affect the peaceful mobilization and fair demands of thousands of Chileans who hope to bring about change,” he said.